The University is set to embark on an ambitious project that may eventually lead to an overhaul of the Hall of Graduate Studies, transforming the complex into a center for the humanities at Yale.
On Friday, the University will submit a zoning application for a new graduate and professional student housing complex on Elm Street, Provost Benjamin Polak announced in a campus-wide email Thursday morning. The new complex, which will have room to house 80 students, will enable the University to start its renovation on the Hall of Graduate Studies following the Elm Street project’s completion in 2017. Moving housing away from HGS will likely provide more space for humanities-related use. Currently, HGS houses 168 graduate students and includes classrooms, the Graduate School’s McDougal Center and faculty and staff offices.
“This means that when the refurbishment of HGS is completed, we will have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use the space in a new and innovative way,” Polak wrote.
By expanding the availability of graduate housing both on University properties and with private projects throughout the city, the University will open up the possibility of using HGS as a “central home for the humanities.”
Once it is no longer used as a residential space, the University believes it can avoid “exorbitant expenses” that would otherwise be required to meet both student expectations and building requirements.
“[HGS] is a very old building and we know that students, through the housing committee, told us they’d want … to be [in] much more apartment style living, which makes sense for graduate students of course,” University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews said. “Right now, the way the facilities are set up, we’d have to do a major renovation, which is very, very expensive.”
The full HGS renovation has been previously projected to cost $100 million and set to be completed by late 2019.
As a result, the University has explored other available residential spaces that can be used to offset the displacement of students by the loss of HGS housing.
The apartment-style housing complex, for which the University is submitting a zoning application today, will be located in what is now the parking lot next to Tyco Printing on Elm Street. Polak described the process of formally submitting the zoning application to the city, which will be completed Friday, as a “crucial” first step before being able to begin HGS renovations.
“This new [Elm Street] complex will provide the kind of living spaces students have been asking for, including kitchens and common rooms, in a fully modern facility,” Polak wrote. “In addition, we are working with local developers to provide input into a number of private projects that will add further housing that is both high quality and conveniently located.”
Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley said the University administration has worked closely with students in the Graduate School Assembly and Professional Student Senate to consider ways to improve graduate and professional school housing on campus and in New Haven.
Marie-Amelie George GRD ’17, who was a representative on the Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Committee on Housing, said there was a broad dialogue among graduate students to discuss housing needs, ranging from size of suites to amenities such as gyms.
In addition, the provost noted that Swing Space on Ashmun Street — currently used for undergraduate annex housing — would be converted into Yale Law School dorms and may also house graduate and professional students once the new residential colleges open in August 2017. Juniors who would normally have been annexed to Swing Space will instead populate the two new residential colleges in the first year they are open, according to Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway.